Navy’s newest ship breaks down, towed in for repairs

MARINETTE, Wis. (Dec. 18, 2013) The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Milwaukee (LCS 5) slides into Lake Michigan during a christening ceremony at the Marinette Marine Corporation shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin/Released)

The USS Milwaukee has been officially on the job for less than a month, but it’s already out of commission. The newly-launched warship broke down on Friday and had to be towed 40 miles to Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Virginia for repairs.

The USS Milwaukee was delivered in October and commissioned on November 21 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was sailing from Halifax, Canada to Mayport, Florida — a stopover point en route to San Diego — before its itinerary was derailed by a mechanical failure.

As reported by the Navy Times, an early diagnosis by mechanical engineers put the blame on a metal debris clog in the engine’s lube oil filter.

The USS Milwaukee is a Freedom-class littoral combat ship. Other ships in its class have had similar problems with metal filings accumulating in lube oil.

News of the ship’s failure reached Capitol Hill rather quickly. Senator John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wasn’t happy to hear about about the problem.

“Reporting of a complete loss of propulsion on USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) is deeply alarming, particularly given this ship was commissioned just 20 days ago,” McCain told the Navy Times. “U.S. Navy ships are built with redundant systems to enable continued operation in the event of an engineering casualty, which makes this incident very concerning.”

“I expect the Navy to conduct a thorough investigation into the root causes of this failure, hold individuals accountable as appropriate, and keep the Senate Armed Services Committee informed,” McCain added.

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